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Lee Rips Through South Africans
03 Feb 2006
By: Richard Edmunds

After some powerful late hitting guided them through to 281, the Australians rode on the pace of Brett Lee to an 80-run win over South Africa at the Telstra Dome today. Lee took four wickets, including Graeme Smith albeit to a slightly questionable lbw decision with the second ball of the innings, for 30 runs in his ten overs as the visitors limped through to 201-9.

The match started ominously for South Africa as Australia, having won a crucial toss and electing to bat, made a powerful start thanks to the now back in form Adam Gilchrist, who scored 33 of the first 45 runs before being clean bowled, swinging powerfully but missing an Andrew Hall delivery altogether in the 10th over. When Simon Katich followed for 25 not long afterwards, caught by Pollock off the bowling of van der Wath, the innings was looking slightly shaky. But a key partnership of 74 between Damien Martyn and returning skipper Ricky Ponting got the batting effort back on track.

It wasn't until the 30th over that the partnership was broken, Martyn on 34 being caught by Johan Botha off Smith, who once again gave himself ten overs but was much less successful than his wicket spree against Sri Lanka at Perth earlier in the week, finishing with figures of 1-59. When Ponting followed 5 overs later for a well-made 53 and Michael Clarke was run out for 1 the over after that it was 167-5 and for the second time in the innings not looking quite so good for home team supporters.

But this brought Mike Hussey to the middle to join Andrew Symonds, about as good a partnership as you could possibly dream of for the last ten overs of an innings. When they were separated 13 overs later, they had put on 109 runs. Hussey had the rare experience of being dismissed in a one-day international. In what proved to be a performance worthy of the man of the match award he scored 62 from just 44 balls before being clean bowled by van der Wath, who suffered horribly at the hands of the two batsmen, being hit for 82 from his ten. Symonds almost caught up with Hussey on his way to the pavillion, run out for 65 just three balls later. And on that note the innings ended, the score 281-7, with 98 runs being scored from the last ten overs.

When Lee removed Smith as mentioned earlier for a two ball duck, and Boeta Dippenaar followed seven overs later for 9, the score was 13-2, a poor start from which they were never really able to recover. Although there were some promising displays, particularly Herschelle Gibbs, with 33 from 40, and Botha, who top-scored with 46, wickets just fell too frequently for the chase to ever be able to get any momentum.

Lee was the main destroyer with his four, but a crucial spell was bowled by rookie all-rounder James Hopes, who bowled six tidy overs taking one for 16. Hopes also took a superb outfield catch falling backwards to dismiss the dangerous Justin Kemp, the first wicket in a Lee over that saw three wickets fall, with Mark Boucher and Botha also falling in the disastrous 39th over. After that the batsmen seemed entirely uninterested in the target and even in preventing the bonus point, with 224 being the score they needed to reach to deprive Australia of the one extra point.

In the end it came down to South Africa needing a rather improbable 84 from the final over, an over they scored just three off to give them a final score of 201-9, well short of both the 282 they required and the bonus point score of 224.

Hussey was given the man of the match award for his explosive innings, the likes of which we have come to expect almost every time he walks out to bat in an ODI, but recognition should also be given to Brett Lee, whose bowling tore South Africa's chances to pieces.

The two teams meet again on Sunday in Sydney, before what may prove to be effectively a semi-final at Hobart on Tuesday, in which South Africa and Sri Lanka face each other. If Australia win again on Sunday, the winner of the Hobart clash will go through to face Australia in the best of three finals series, beginning in Adelaide on Friday.

Australia 281-7
Andrew Symonds 65, Mike Hussey 62
Johannes van der Wath 2-82, Johan Botha 1-12

South Africa 201-9
Johan Botha 46, Herschelle Gibbs 33
Brett Lee 4-30, James Hopes 1-16

Australia won by 80 runs.

Cricket Web Player of the Match
Brett Lee (4-30)

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